31 Jan 2019
You’re studying at University and ready to apply to your first game studio, but you have no experience of applying for jobs in the games industry nor have a definite idea of what game studios may be looking for. Fear not! We’ve put together a quick guide that will help you when applying for your first games industry job and will serve as a useful check list for the future as well.
Apply for jobs early. In your 3rd year of Uni you should already be applying for jobs. If you are that good and can present your skills in the right way, you could land a job well in advance of finishing your course.
Don't be that "know it all dude". Like in any job, University won't teach you everything and just like driving a car, most of the learning comes after you’ve passed your test. Be a sponge and take in knowledge, don’t claim to know everything about everything.
Not everyone lands a job at the first time of asking, the market is competitive, and your skill set or style may not be suited to every studio. Learn from each application, seek feedback, take on board any criticisms, develop a thick skin and most importantly adapt.
A prime example of this is showcased in Bjørn Jacobsen’s video. Bjorn is a senior sound designer for CD Projekt Red and he made this video to document his pathway into AAA games. 16 applications to schools and 70 job applications later he landed his first role at IO Interactive.
You’ve visited your favourite games job board, www.gamesjobsdirect.com and see your dream studio has loads of vacancies in your specialism. Don't apply for every job in the book at the same studio. You may get the urge to apply for every job at a studio that you want to work for, however tempting it is, don't! You’ll just annoy the recruiters. Find the job that you’re best suited too and tailor your application and portfolio to the studios style.
Present any work you have done on your course or in game jams. If you are an artist use a site like Artstation to build your portfolio – inhouse recruiters are very familiar with Artstation and it will format in the correct way. If you are a programmer or a designer, showcase game jam projects or course projects and remember to explain the role that you played in this. The more external projects you can showcase the better.
If your portfolio needs extra depth, then look to enter design or development competitions. You’ll benefit from expanding your portfolio and receiving a critique of your work to aid your development. You’ll also gain exposure to potential employers who will be on the judging panel and participation can help build industry relationships.
Getting into the industry is hard – especially without experience. Don’t set your sights on the dream AAA job from the outset, be realistic and gain experience. Any foot in the door can be an opportunity, some game developers started their path in talent acquisition (we’re not saying everyone should do this). Just don’t expect to start at a AAA studio when there are some amazing smaller independent studios where you can learn your craft and develop towards that AAA role.
Have an active, up to date LinkedIn profile, make sure your posts are relevant, join industry groups and where possible contribute to industry discussions.
Keep up to date with the latest industry trends and developments so you can demonstrate your knowledge and make references when relevant within the interview process.
Make sure you do your research and background checks on the studio: their origins, past and current projects, notable successes, areas of specialty, culture and prominent members of staff.
Tailor your CV and Portfolio to the studio/job description that you are applying to. Make it as easy for the recruiter as possible, if you are applying for an environment artist job then rename your saved CV Joe_Bloggs_Environment_Artist.doc or something similar. Using CV1 or Joe Bloggs CVv4 makes it a lot harder for the recruiter to find your CV stored with hundreds of others.
If you’re an artist and you want to tailor your portfolio to the style of the studio, find some of the current artists of the studio on Artstation and have a look at the style they’re presenting.
Make sure you pay attention to the basics, double check any links you provide, make sure your spelling, grammar and tone are correct and relevant for the geographical location of the employer, for example if you live in England and are applying for a job in America use American English.
Remember, the people you work with early on in your career may be in charge of your department later on in your career. Respect people, their opinions and network all the time and try to learn from everyone. The Games Industry is built on reputation, so start building yours early.
Seek out opportunities that can help forge relationships, improve your knowledge and possibly contribute towards future opportunities, resources like https://www.meetup.com/topics/gamedev/ are ideal for finding real world groups.
Finally, have a search on www.gamesjobsdirect.com for entry level opportunities. These roles are perfect for Graduates looking to get their first job in games. Here is a very quick search for a keyword "Junior" - Feel free to conduct your own search and find new roles - https://www.gamesjobsdirect.com/results?k=junior&title=tonly
Keep Calm and waka waka...